Pinback performance at Lee’s Palace felt as though we were wafting through a hazy dream. The hollow wails of the vocals, the fits and starts of the guitars, and the thrumming bass lines coupled with ethereal grainy images of constellations and a gravity-less earth – it’s no wonder the San Diegans have secured a cultish following of hippie punks south of the border.">

Pinback bring their electro indie rock to Lee’s Palace


Published:

Last night’s Pinback performance at Lee’s Palace felt as though we were wafting through a hazy dream. The hollow wails of the vocals, the fits and starts of the guitars and the thrumming bass lines coupled with ethereal grainy images of constellations and a gravity-less earth – it’s no wonder the San Diegans have secured a cultish following of hippie punks south of the border.

This tour honours the band’s first album in five years, Information Retrieved, and only included two stops in Canada. Pulling heavily from the new record, multi-instrumentalists Rob Crow (who was dressed as a bearded Angus Young) and Armistead Burwell Smith IV had the walls of Lee’s Palace pulsating with reverb and droning guitar squalls. Though both have taken the time off to pursue independent side projects, their chemistry on stage as they jumped from guitar to bass to keys was effortless, and bordered on telepathic. Crow and Smith were both methodical and mathematical, dissecting rhythms meticulously with their fingers.

They might have been on the same wavelength with each other, but there was definitely a coldness in the air as the band went from track to track without speaking a single word. One guy in the crowd even yelled out, “Say something, Rob!” but Crow soldiered on to the next number as though he hadn’t heard. In my opinion, lack of verbosity worked to their credit. Information Retrieved is cavernous, empty, and expansive, so why unnecessarily clutter it?

Also, the guys made up for it with ethereal (and sometimes pretty messed up) screen projections. Grainy images splayed on to the screen ranged from shots of outer space, a dude feeding a squirrel, a beached shipwreck and the earth without gravity (spoiler: it blows up). Combined with the strangely existential quality of their sound, the experience was gut-wrenchingly beautiful. Think of it as an experiment to find the allure of the mundane, or an American Beauty plastic-bag-floating-in-the-wind scenario.

So, it’s not surprising that Pinback’s brand of electro indie rock is incomparable. The consensus seems to liken them to Linkin Park, but perhaps without the intensity of Chester Bennington. Tracks such as “Sherman” and “Proceed to Memory” were definite highlights, unifying the audience who nodded in unison and latched on to every defined note.

If there was a downfall, it was certainly the uninterrupted string of songs. For the heaviness of Pinback’s penetrating sound to adequately seep in, it would have been much better received to give us a break by way of conversation. The songs off of the new record might not be breaking any barriers, and at times, can even come off a bit monotonous — which can be a bit exhausting for those of us in the crowd. We would have much rather seen them push it to full-fledged rock territory and just let go.

Regardless of whether you were able to make it out to the gig or whether you’re pumping the record out through headphones, it’s clear that Pinback is still going strong and have an unparalleled ability to pull out unexpected and misunderstood beauty with scientifically-composed sounds.

Sabrina Nanji is a Toronto-based writer devoted to the underground music beat. She has also dabbled in reporting on the city’s street style and local politics, but her true expertise (though she’s reluctant to admit it) lies in the world of Star Wars trivia nights. Follow her on Twitter here.

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Nine tips for safe cycling in Toronto (you won’t believe number five!)

Nine tips for safe cycling in Toronto (you won’t believe number five!)

Safe cycling is pretty easy, for the most part. Here are a few takeaways I’ve picked up from the front lines.
Posted 1 day ago
One Man Star Wars hits Toronto tonight

One Man Star Wars hits Toronto tonight

When you grow up in a remote part of British Columbia and have little entertainment, a copy of the Star Wars trilogy on VHS comes in handy. So much so, that actor Charles Ross watched it more than 300 times, basically committing much of it to memory.
Posted 2 days ago
Too Close to Call: Toronto’s Awaken Studio and The House of Yoga offer unusual new takes on spirituality

Too Close to Call: Toronto’s Awaken Studio and The House of Yoga offer unusual new takes on spirituality

Inhale spiritual awakening and exhale body issues with these unique new takes on traditional yoga practices.
Posted 2 days ago
Workout with Monika: Yorkville gym offers new workout to zap you into shape

Workout with Monika: Yorkville gym offers new workout to zap you into shape

This is the most efficient and unique 20-minute workout you will ever try. I walk into the Yorkville gym in my new outfit only to be given a cotton one to replace it. The owner of Lucid Fitness and my trainer for the day, Aman Hasebenebi, hands it to me with instructions not to wear any undergarments.
Posted 3 days ago